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"We Screwed Up," Says Reddit CEO In Formal Apology 452

An anonymous reader writes: After moderators locked up some of Reddit's most popular pages in protest against the dismissal of Victoria Taylor, and an online petition asking the company to fire CEO Ellen Pao reached more than 175,000 signatures over the weekend, Pao has issued an apology. The statement reads in part: "We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven't communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven't delivered on them. When you've had feedback or requests, we haven't always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit. Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me."
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"We Screwed Up," Says Reddit CEO In Formal Apology

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  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:02PM (#50057085)

    Hiring Ellen Pao.

    • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:24PM (#50057339)

      Pretty much. Think of how bad it has to be for her to actually be admitting fault? We're talking about a chick that fired people that had to go off to chemo.

      If she's apologizing it means that she's afraid. And at this point given her long series of unacceptable moves... that's just blood in the water.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nbauman ( 624611 )

        Pretty much. Think of how bad it has to be for her to actually be admitting fault? We're talking about a chick that fired people that had to go off to chemo.

        If she's apologizing it means that she's afraid. And at this point given her long series of unacceptable moves... that's just blood in the water.

        She's a corporate management type. Her apology might have been written by a crisis management PR firm.

        • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @04:01PM (#50057759)

          Possibly... but for it to be issued at all is a first out of her so far as I know.

          Reddit was started as an experiment in free speech.

          To the extent I care about this at all, it is in that context. I want the internet to be free for people to say whatever they want.

          Anything from criticism of those in power to calling some random twit a cocktoddler. The fat shaming board was gross... I get no joy out of making fun of other people's misfortunes that haven't done anything to me. But... I wouldn't ban or censor speech.

          This whole different between punching up or down... It doesn't matter. Everyone has a right to speak and think whatever they want. You don't like what someone has to say... then use your right to speak to say so and use your right to think to judge them. But you don't censor them.

          My issue with Pao is that she's got no problem with censorship. And all things being equal nothing else matters to me on the topic.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I've decided to stop wasting my time responding to AC trolls/sockpuppets... so if you want a response from me... login.

            WTF?!? If you think reddit trying to silence FatPeopleHate was a bad decision, just wait until you see the fallout from this new "policy" of yours.

            This is truly a sad day for Slashdot. Shame on you.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ezdiy ( 2717051 )
              Same problem as facebook and social whatever. And unique snowflakes suddenly butthurt when they realize closed walled gardens are heavily policed since those are not operated under old internet creed of free access, they're corporations.

              Old unmoderated media are still all out there - usenet, irc channels, or non-mainstream imageboards if people want it in hip setting. No moderation has also some pretty nasty drawbacks, and suddenly muh free speech types will be offended by what happens when there truly i
      • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @04:01PM (#50057761) Journal

        Yeah, no.

        An apology just means that there was a significant enough signal to trigger a publicity action. The real apology is "we're sorry that you don't approve of things we're doing" not "we're sorry that we did things you don't approve of."

      • She's sorry [youtube.com]

    • and she STILL didnt step down. that was the worst non apology ive ever seen

      I would sue her for discrimination , ultimate karma
    • Knowing how to suck up to people who are throwing other people's money around hoping something sticks is a very different skill set from running a business. Ellen Pao was never qualified to run a taco stand, much less a high-traffic web site.

      The best thing Reddit could do is can her incompetent ass TODAY, and hire someone qualified to lead them to profitability.

      -jcr

  • Resignation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:03PM (#50057087) Homepage

    Unless that's followed by her resignation, it's a whole lot of horse crap.

    • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:12PM (#50057185)

      Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me.

      "... Which is why today I am implementing a system of regular public apologies, to be made by me on a quarterly basis and as needed when we really fuck things up.

      I want you to know that accountability and leadership aren't just buzz words here at Reddit, they are very real goals that I have delegated to a very real junior staffer, Ted.

      So in the future, when Reddit screws the pooch, you can rest assured that I will take full responsibility by publicly apologizing and then firing Ted."

      • So in the future, when Reddit screws the pooch, you can rest assured that I will

        ... "change our logo accordingly" ? This is the Internet, after all.

      • I'm reminded of that episode of South Park with the CEO saying "We're sorry" [youtube.com] over and over again while not doing anything of actual substance.

      • "And we're also very glad that we're still moving forward at 'Reddit Speed(tm)'

        Reddit Speed: noun
        A sufficient metaphorical velocity to orbit accountability without ever intersecting with it.

        (Adapted from a joke inside my company about moving at [company name] speed)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WCMI92 ( 592436 )

      Yep. Reddit isn't serious about anything until she's gone.

      Anyone who ever subscribed to Star Wars Galaxies experienced this exact kind of management. SOE endlessly would apologize for their "lack of communication" then proceed to continue on their destructive changes no one liked not altering their course one degree.

  • Wow. Lip service! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:06PM (#50057115) Homepage Journal

    Basically unless they rehire Taylor or Pao steps down, this is just a bunch of community knob-slobbery with no actual value behind it whatsoever.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:29PM (#50057403)
      It is very easy to make words, it is very difficult to back those words up with anything of meaning. These are just platitudes unless they actually follow up with something, and they're probably not going to do that.
    • AND, not or
    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @05:16PM (#50058361)

      Basically unless they rehire Taylor or Pao steps down, this is just a bunch of community knob-slobbery with no actual value behind it whatsoever.

      I keep hearing this statement, but we've no idea why she was fired. She could have came to work high on cocaine, started doing shots in the break room and then admitted embezzling millions for the company. Reddit can't legal comment on it, which makes sense.

      The real problem here is that they had such an "indispensable" employee in the first place. Even worse, they seemed to have no idea how important she was. They should have know what she did, why she did it, and what to do in the event something happened to her. This is Business management 101

  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:08PM (#50057137)
    She was all over other media outlets over the weekend, and only just now makes vague promises about "tools". Hopefully those won't go the way of the "transparency!" promises they made earlier. People are apparently rather unhappy. But the good news is that Ellen Pao thinks that her users don't care [thesocialmemo.org], and the ones who are raising a fuss are insignificant. That's the way to make the moderators (which are basically unpaid employees) happy, Ellen!

    Her management style reeks of VC meddling. It's all sanitize and monetize now. Weird shadowbanning, giving some offensive subreddits the boot but not others, etc.

    I predict a gradual exodus. The cool kids tend to move on anyway once their parents have arrived.

    -B
  • by xafan ( 836020 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:09PM (#50057143)
    This latest issue with firing a beloved director (Victoria) was only the catalyst for the rage against Ellen Pao. She comes in as an interim CEO, brings a ton of baggage in the form of her life-long scam artist husband and her own false claims of gender discrimination, proceeds to enforce selective and personally-driven censorship, and then finally fires one of the most community involved employees of reddit. It doesn't help that the rumors over the cause of Victoria's firing was due to her refusing to delete legitimate questions during Jesse Jackson's AMA.
    • by buk110 ( 904868 )
      The firing doesn't even matter, it's the lack of a plan. If you're going to have one person be such a key piece in arguably one of your most popular subs, you better have a really good plan in place in the event they quit/resign/are hit by a bus. There wasn't
      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        The firing doesn't even matter, it's the lack of a plan. If you're going to have one person be such a key piece in arguably one of your most popular subs, you better have a really good plan in place in the event they quit/resign/are hit by a bus. There wasn't

        There wasn't...what?

        Posting to Slashdot on a cell phone while crossing the street wasn't a good idea...

      • YES! This is the issue that investors should care about.

        And the reason why they didn't have a transition plan is that no one in management, not even co-founder Ohanian, understands how reddit works anymore (at least with the iAMA). And apparently management doesn't grasp basic HR procedure.

  • Real Apologies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:10PM (#50057157)

    Always start with "I". She refused to use the proper accountability method, namely, dropping the "we" and using the "I".

    Everything else is just window dressing.

    • by pem ( 1013437 )
      Not only that, real apologies wouldn't be talking about screwing up for years, since she hasn't even been there for years.
    • Dan's completely accurate here. It makes me wonder if this (avoiding 'I' and using 'we') isn't the type of product that comes from Crisis Management PR firms who are brought in by CEO's in similar situations. As a consultant, their #1 goal is to please the person who signs their paychecks. When they craft apologies like this, the priorities might not be so much to soothe the audience as it is to present the boss with a response that's palatable to the boss. It would be unnatural for them to go into a meetin
  • Considering the massive screw-ups that have happened here at slashdot, it appears someone did not learn anything from this at all. Party on, guys.
  • by Bugler412 ( 2610815 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:14PM (#50057217)
    Among other things, sounds like Slashdot's current owners are on a similar path...
  • Digg 2.0 (Score:3, Informative)

    by buk110 ( 904868 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:15PM (#50057229)
    When your community is what generates the revenue and the articles and the commentary, you have to be careful to not go too far too fast. Was Victoria fired with cause? I don't know and I don't care - but you need to have contingency plans in place. It's clear there wasn't.
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:22PM (#50057315) Homepage

    Anyone? I know someone people all over it but I noticed most of them are a few generations after me. I looked at it and it looked like a threaded forum site.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      It is basically a threaded forum site, but one that has scaled amazingly well. There's about 10k active subreddits, and something like 850k total. There's 190m posts and 1.7b comments, serving up 7.5b pageviews a month. Do you know of some forum software that can handle that? Or a usenet server/client that wouldn't completely crap itself performing the same tasks as what Reddit does?

    • Why not Forums?

      VBulletin/phpBB style discussion boards are great, and there's usually one for basically-whatever you're into - cars, computers, pets, food, crafts, wedding planning. It's not uncommon for a given user to be a part of at least one such community. The problem is that it's a bit more difficult to 'channel surf' that way. If a user participates in a discussion thread in Alpha Forum, they'd have to log in separately to Bravo Forum to participate there. This limits the scope of topics that can be viewed at a given clip. Similarly, different forums have different rules or customs. Some are particularly strict about citing sources for claims, others are super strict in the profanity, others use a 'reputation' point system while others simply use 'thanks' or nothing at all; Reddit is at least a smidge more consistent site-wide with its rules.

      Why not Usenet?
      I'm still a fan, personally. comp.misc has some interesting discussions, and misc.legal.moderated is frequently some fascinating reading. There are a few groups related to video games and Doctor Who that have interesting discussions, the latter particularly after new episodes air. The fact that a user identify is basically universal is helpful to keep the playing field level. Usenet has its own list of problems though. First and foremost, usenet is something that itself needs to be sought after to a certain extent at this point; few ISPs offer access to it, and neither Windows nor OSX ship with a client. This is further complicated by the fact that a "binary client" and a "text client" are frequently different pieces of software, usually cost money on top of existing internet subscriptions, few real-life friends tend to be able to share the experience, and the search results for the term in Google are usually affiliated with warez, so getting people into it is its own challenge to begin with. Moreover, usenet is much more susceptible to spam, it's not possible to share in-line images or youtube clips (like it or not, responding with memes and animated GIFs is a common practice these days), and it's not possible to 'upvote' posts as to indicate the quality of a particular contribution. Put it all together, and Usenet is a wonderful niche that Reddit simply does better for the majority of internet users.

  • Chairman Pao (Score:5, Informative)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @03:25PM (#50057347)

    What a piece of work.
    http://www.vanityfair.com/styl... [vanityfair.com]

  • Maybe they just came from the same school of business
  • I spend entirely too much time on reddit, and it doesn't seem like they can even put together a clear message about what they are mad about. It's turned from a few people that had really good reasons at the beginning to a "Pao must go!!!" Circlejerk.
  • It's not a bad apology I guess, but it still seems to ignore the main reason for all the trouble-- the firing of Victoria. I'm not sure whose anger she thinks she's answering.

  • Until they (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cafe Alpha ( 891670 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @07:07PM (#50059137) Journal

    1. Hire that Taylor back or
    2. Explain why she was fired

    They've done nothing at all. And the only thing to apologize for other than firing a well liked person for no apparent reason is the fact that Pao laughed at her users to their faces. And no one is going to believe that she means an apology for that.

  • by ronmon ( 95471 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @09:02PM (#50059745)

    Is it something like facebook or twitter? Don't us them either.

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